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Blog #47 One Thing Judas Did Right

Judas Iscariot gets a bad rap. And justifiably so.


He single-handedly got the crucifixion ball rolling and did it all for 30 pieces of silver. After talking with Jesus, sitting under His teaching and experiencing His miracles, Judas decided to make a little money off the endeavor.


It was a gigantic betrayal.


In Mark 3, Jesus appoints the 12 disciples. The names are rattled off one by one and the list ends with, “Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him” (v.19). By the time Mark recorded his gospel, Judas’ reputation had forever been soiled.


How do you turn on someone who loved you and invited you into an inner circle of friends that witnessed the world being changed? And Judas not only initiated Jesus’ arrest, he orchestrated it. It was a decision that took planning and ended with a kiss! The guards probably could have picked Jesus out of the crowd that night in the garden, but even if not, did Judas have to single Him out with such a sign of friendship? Intimacy? Trust?


Brutal.


Judas doesn’t win many points for loyalty and we don’t find ourselves modeling our behavior after him, but I do have to give him some credit. There was one thing he did right.


He never called Jesus “Lord.”


There is a smattering of verbal interaction between Jesus and Judas in the gospels, and in each instance, Judas refers to Him as “Rabbi.” Now, don’t get me wrong. Rabbi is still a term of honor. It is a title reserved for a Jewish official, trained and qualified to teach Jewish law. It is a title that denotes mentorship and respect.


But it does not mean “Lord.”


In Matthew 26, when Jesus announces to the disciples that there is a traitor in the ranks, Judas replies, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” (v.26) And then later, in the garden, the fateful moment of Jesus’ arrest, Judas signals the soldiers with a statement dripping with insincerity: “Greetings, Rabbi!” (v.49).


This week I asked my teenage sons what it means to have Jesus be the center of someone’s life. They easily rattled off Sunday school answers: read your Bible, pray, love others, don’t lie, go to church, etc. After each answer I said, “Yes… but you are missing one.” It became a game that detailed a long list of behaviors, but in the end, they never got the most important one. I, then, showed them this verse:


“Whoever wants to follow me must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).


“Oh,” said my sixth grader, “that one.”


Yeah, that one.


When we call Jesus, “Lord,” we are telling Him that He is the boss. We willingly deny ourselves and follow His lead. Not because we are miserably enslaved with no minds of our own, but because He is holy and worthy of every bit of our attention and affection.


We do it gratefully because of His great love and sacrifice for us. We do it because we know it is the very best path we could take. One filled with purpose and profound joy.


Calling Him, “Lord,” is a privilege. It is weighty and should not be uttered casually. Yet, too often, it slips off our tongue without any regard to the posture of our heart. Just as casually as we call Him, “Lord,” we also tell Him what we won’t be doing or what we won’t be changing.


Believe it or not, “No, Lord,” is an oxymoron.


Therefore, Judas got it right. Unfortunately, his heart matched his mouth. I believe he did respect Jesus as a teacher, and he didn’t pretend that He was Lord. Therefore, we shouldn’t be too surprised by his actions.


***

Easter is approaching. It’s the time of year when we hear, read, and often say, “Jesus is Lord.” This year, though, let me challenge you to pause before you nod in agreement or verbalize it publicly.


Is He really Lord?


If He’s not, make the choice to change that. There is no greater joy than to agree in both heart and mind that…


He is risen.

And He is Lord.


Be Intentional

Every time your read or hear the phrase, "Jesus is Lord," pause and search your heart. What area is He not Lord and what do you need to do to change that?


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